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Field Marshal Sir Henry WilsonA Political Soldier$
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Keith Jeffery

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239672

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239672.001.0001

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Losing Ireland and saving Ulster

Losing Ireland and saving Ulster

(p.256) 13 Losing Ireland and saving Ulster
Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson


Oxford University Press

Prior to the signing of the Versailles peace treaty, Henry Wilson remarked in a letter to Wully Robertson (then commanding the occupation army on the Rhine) that ‘Ireland goes from bad to worse and it seems to me that we cannot get out of it, and ought not to get out of it now, without a little blood letting’. The so-called Irish war of independence is conventionally regarded as having begun on January 21, 1919. Neither the British Cabinet nor the Irish administration were quite sure exactly how to respond to the violence. As it developed from late 1919, the challenge became increasingly military, but there were quite sound political reasons for the policy-makers not to meet it with military measures. This chapter looks at the victory of the Unionist Party in Southern Ireland and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland during the parliamentary elections held in May 1921, the establishment of a separatist Irish assembly, and the emergence of the Irish Republican Army.

Keywords:   Versailles peace treaty, Wully Robertson, Northern Ireland, elections, violence, Irish Republican Army, Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, unionism, separatism

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